Brothers in arms – A Short Story.

 

sea people service uniform
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

The snow was covered in red hot blood, a sight, that was the most beautiful image a man can see and at the same time never wish to see again. It was beautiful and eerie. Gunshots filled the snowy plains, the sound of gunshots hitting the sandbags that shielded the soldiers was a nightmare that never should come true. Distant cry’s could be heard around the camp. Men fell to their fate, the air spread a nasty smell of fear around the battlefield. The Beymern border camp held 25 people who were facing their worst nightmare. But they welcomed it with a smile, they were doing this for a common reason, for their country.

The day was not the same two hours ago. At 6:00 am 32 officers in the camp fall in for their morning parade and following a football match within the camp. Lieutenant Hathra’s team won the match against Sergeant Vardhan’s team. The usual result as always. After the match Hathra came to Vardhan, they talked for a long time. Both of them were friends from high school, now joined the Beymern army and got posted at the same camp. Hathra always mocked Vardhan for becoming a Sergeant and him becoming a Lieutenant.

“I joined lately, If I was enrolled along with you I would have become the Captain,” Vardhan always replied the same. But that never stopped Hathra. It was just a usual day, a day that was cold but shiny. Snow covered the ground outside the camp. Four out of thirty-two men were sent out of the camp to their respected lookout positions.

It was almost ten thirty when the men on the lookout posts detected movement in the nearby forests. They could see the border between Beymern and Nortier, which was heavily fortified by using electric fences. There was no way there could have been any unknown entries from the other side. But officer Ray who was on the tower informed the men below. They all looked through the binoculars, but the forest interrupted the view. But the thermal scanners showed a huge troop hiding behind the trees.

Officer Ray, took out the radio to inform the base camp, but a sudden gunshot pierced the officer’s skull. The rest three men were alert of the troop’s position and fired back. They took cover. It was the Nortier army, they knew that from the blue uniforms that could be seen from the tree lines. The reply strikes were heavier than they could think. It was raining bullets. They hid behind sandbags which was laid around the watchtower. Officer Main took out his radio and alerted the base camp.

“The Watchtower is under attack. There has been an entry from the other side.” Lieutenant shouted from the communications room to his officers. The whole camp rushed into their rooms and took their guns and weapons. Everyone was equipped for a battle. But there was a war coming that they did not know.

“How many are there?” asked Vardhan, his face was red as an apple, he has been in a battle before and have won a silver medal from the President.  It had been long since he had got into a battle. Now he had a chance.

“Close to two hundred and a tank.” Lieutenant Hathra’s voice felt heavy, there was no way thirty men could fight two hundred men and a tank. The news brought fear upon Vardhan, he was ready for a battle not for war. The lovely day seemed to be last day they would remember he thought. But Vardhan didn’t lose hope. He could feel his loyal friend being scared of his fellow officers lives. They could not retreat, it was not the right thing to do at this point.

“We will fight.” Said Vardhan standing upright with a puffed up chest. “Awaiting orders, lieutenant.” A sudden spark went through Hathra, he smiled. “FALL IN.” Hathra shouted.

Everyone in the camp stood before him, Sergeant Vardhan joined the others. Hathra looked at everyone, he knew it was the best men he could ever get to go for a battle. He was proud of them.

“There are close to two hundred men who are gaining onto our camp, we may be a few in numbers but we should let them know the strength of Beymerns. This country has always been strong and proud, so are we. We cannot let them pass these border. I shall die protecting my country. and I need men who would willingly die with me, who would walk with me to the gates of hell.”

“WE WILL!!!!!” the men shouted out, a new found energy covered the entire camp. Now it was time for war. Fifteen minutes was the maximum time they would get to be prepared before the enemies reach the camp. And not to forget they have a tank. Lieutenant laid out a plan, divide and conquer. The main target was to take out the tank. He employed two of the best men to go out of the camp and set up hiding place near the woods but within the range of the camp. They shall be equipped with the RPG 7 launchers which could take out the tank. Mines were dug outside the camp. Ten men stayed a hundred meters away from the camp inside the forest. Five snipers were set around the camp. The rest stayed inside the camp behind the sandbags.

Time flew by like a butterfly, men sat silently hidden from any eyes.  The snipers above kept on giving information to the men below. And after what seemed like a minute or so, they heard something fly past them. A missile was launched from the tank that struck the camp. No one was injured but the impact shocked everyone around. The snipers were unable to take a shot at the upcoming enemies, they hid behind the tank and it didn’t look like two hundred people, maybe fifty or so. The tank stopped a hundred meters away. Fired another shot, no damages. But then gunshots were heard from the forest around. The Nortiers have used the forest to cover themselves. The ten men in the forest were now fighting against them. Several gunshots and explosions from mines and grenades were heard. The troops behind the tank appeared, they kept on shooting to the sandbags. The men behind sat patiently until the tank was destroyed.

The RPG was unable to be launched because the tank was out of their range. They had to move closer. As the troops came in closer to the camp. The snipers started firing, several of the enemies fell on the wrath of the snipers. Mines exploded as they started scattering from their troops and came closer to the camp. Sergeant Vardhan started shooting from behind the sandbags and took as many lives as possible. No matter how much they shot, the tank stood still and fired upon them.

Hours have passed many had fallen from the Nortier side, twenty men remained for the Beymern side. The ten men who were in the forest took as many lives as possible but had got no news from them for the past hour. Two of the snipers fell. A pile of dead bodies of the enemy soldiers lay outside the camp. The twenty men had no hope of surviving. Not less than a hundred men still stood on the Nortier side.

“Should we charge in?,” asked Vardhan to his lieutenant. Lieutenant stood silent. He had eyes on another target who came up with a grenade. Hathra’s shot pierced the man’s skull and the grenade accidentally fell among his own men and exploded. It was a ten kill on a single shot.

Several minutes passed and there was no more hope left. Less than fifteen men left on the Beymern side. A bullet shot right through lieutenant Hathra’s shoulder that caused heavy blood loss. Their medic was dead, not much could the men do to help Hathra, neither did he allow anyone to treat him.

“It’s not my life that is worth, we need to stop them that is all that count.” the lieutenant shouted to his officers. Sergeant Vardhan was busy shooting at the men who stepped over the camp gate. The sun was blocked by cold-hearted clouds, that almost made the midday a dark night.

The men kept chattering about doing something to escape that hell. It was more than anyone could handle. Until the reinforcement arrived there was no sign of victory. Suddenly one among the twenty men started to speak out. And everyone joined him. It was their army pledge.

To the people, I live among.
To the people, I serve.
To the people, I fight for.
To the people, I call brothers and sisters.
I shall die in honor of dying for my country,
for the land, I call home,
for the people, I call my countrymen,
for my mother and my father.
No one shall go past me,
take away my home from me,
burn my freedom away from me.
Dig my graves, my friends,
for today I shall die the heroes death,
and shall dine with our forefathers.
Cause today I die for my motherland.

When all hopes seemed far away, they heard an explosion, a sound that was much louder than before. Vardhan looked over the sandbags to see something they waited for long. The snipers radioed the lieutenant.

“The tank is down. I repeat the tank is down.”

Lieutenant was astonished to see the tank been demolished to pieces and killed half of the men near it. The two men in the woods occupied with the RPG’s went in closer enough to get a clear shot and they took it. But was spotted by the enemies, they put up a good fight before going down.

“Your plan worked. Shall we advance now?” asked Sergeant Vardhan, a big smile in his face. Lieutenant smiled back. “Let’s go kill them.” They all moved towards the enemy troops, Nortier was left with less than a fifty men, who now was shocked with the destruction of the tank. The Beymern’s had an upper hand and they took it.

The white snow floor was now a red blood river. The ground was so hot, smoke rose from the ground. Several of the men wearing green uniforms and blue uniforms went down.

“We can bring them down,”  Sergeant Vardhan told Lieutenant Hathra. But hardly did he see that Hathra had taken several shots, he was slowly dying. The battle lasted for another hour. For their fortune, Beymern reinforcement reached the camp and took out what was left of the Nortier soldiers. Eight of the Beymern soldiers survived. Lieutenant Hathra died as soon as the reinforcement arrived. He had done his part. Never for one second did he allow the enemies to enter the camp or cross the gate.

“Oh! It is very much relaxing to lye down on the snow after a hard day, isn’t it?” Hathra asked Vardhan just before he died. Vardhan’s eyes filled with tears.

“Is it you crying or is it my mind playing with me?” Hathra asked, smiling at Vardhan.

“It is probably your mind, idiot” Vardhan replied.

Hathra smiled, “you are my junior, I am a lieutenant. You know that, right.” They both laughed. “I joined later, if I enrolled with you, I would have become a captain,” Vardhan said his usual reply.

“You will, I know. It was an honor to work with you” Hathra told Vardhan, “Send my love to my family, will you?”

“Yes, I will.” Hathra smiled and slowly went into the deep sleep he would never wake from. Vardhan pulled out Hathra’s gun and laid it on his chest and stood up. He was crying, he never has felt such sadness in his life. Then he rubbed away his tears and stood there looking at the distant land that spread around. The vast land which he called his motherland, his home. He saluted his lieutenant, his friend, a brave warrior who saved his mother nation.

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Philosophy of Life – A Story

bench in the garden

    The evening was perfect for the travellers who were in the Railgate city. The sun was bright, the wind was calm. The trees were gently moving to tunes of the wind. The city park was peaceful except for the laughing and giggling of the children playing around the pond in the middle. It was a weekend that every person desperately needed and it was the place to be on such an occasion. The travellers were taking photos, eating their snacks, boating in the pond and every single thing a normal person would do. But on a bench in a quiet end of the park sat a man of middle age yet he looked old in his brown overcoat. His once jet black hair started to become grey and the cute fair face that the women loved started to become wrinkled. But the subtle beard was able to compensate with the wrinkles. He wasn’t alone in the bench, a book he had been longing to read was accompanying him, taking him to places that he had never seen or meeting new people who were never real.

An inspector of the Railgate city should be on duty at this time, but he didn’t want to be on duty on such a beautiful evening. All the stress he had, all those sleepless nights, the tiring run behind an unknown person has got a hold on him. But all those could be kept aside for this evening. “The world doesn’t end tonight,” he told his assistant while coming out of his office early that day.

He wasn’t paying any attention to the surroundings but he was aware of a person walking up to him. It was a public park, there were hundreds of people around and many more would come eventually. But he was sure someone was coming straight to him. He just ignored that as he was deeply engaged in the beautiful romantic story he was reading.

“Good evening, sir,” a rough-voiced man stood beside the bench. The man was looking really old, older than the police officer. He wore an army green jacket which was muddy and looked older than him. The same colour hat was on his head, hiding his baldness.

“Can I sit here?” He asked very gently, his voice was clear and low but was holding a weight in it. Maybe of a tiring journey or of his old age, the inspector thought. He didn’t want anybody to disturb him that was why he sat at the back end of the park still an old man came straight for him and wanted to sit on that particular bench.

“Yeah, good evening. There are other benches in this park. You could sit peacefully there.” The inspector out of frustration raised his voice against him.

“Oh! I am sorry, sir. I am new to this city and I know nobody here. It was just I was scared to be left alone in this large place. You looked like a nice gentleman, so I thought I could just sit beside. So I could feel a little safe.” The old man said with his words stuttering in between.

His face looked helpless. The old man reminded him of his long lost father. For a second, he cursed himself for his misbehaviour. The old man kept smiling and turned back to move away from the bench.

“It’s all right, you could have a seat here,” The inspector smiled back at him and made room for the old man to sit. The old man’s eyes lit up, he slowly sat on the bench thanking the inspector. They both sat there for some time, nobody talked. The inspector honestly wanted to know why the old man was here in this crowded city all alone. That mystery kept him from returning to the books. But the old man was even anxious to start a conversation with the young man and he did.

“It is a lovely evening, isn’t it?” the inspector turned towards the old man. “It looks just like my village except for these cars and tall buildings.” The inspector felt very comfortable in the way the man was talking and he closed his books and thought of enjoying a real-life company.

“Oh! really, Its mostly like this in the spring season. But the summer’s could get even worse.” the inspector tried to give a good picture of how his city was but he wanted to know more about the old man’s life. “Where are you from?”

“I am from a village called Rimmerett. It is really far to the south of this city.” The old man got something to start his conversation with. “I am a farmer so was my father and his father. The village is a magnificent place to live in. Green hills and clear river valleys. You should come to visit one day.”

The inspector felt very happy for somebody calling him to visit his village, from what he said, he was able to feel the peaceful life the old man have. It must so great to be a farmer in such a place.

“Yeah! after I have finished some of my works I would definitely visit the place.” The inspector told the old man, he wouldn’t possibly visit the place but he didn’t want to tell the old man that. For some reason, he didn’t want to see the old man’s face go dull again. “Then what brings you here to this city?”

The old man’s eyes widened, his face became pale white. His forehead was sweating which he rubbed away with his wrinkled palm. Then slowly he returned to his normal state.

“Uh, I was here at the police station. I have a case filed here.” the old man stuttering throughout his words. The inspector was little amazed to see an old man far from south to have a case filed in this city. He wanted to know more, but the old man’s face left him in silence and thought of asking no more. They both sat quietly like fish in a pond searching through their minds for something they did not know. After some moments, the old man was humming to a song, it was rough and tough still it made the inspector feel happy.

“That is nice, do you sing?” the inspector asked the old man. The man blushed, nobody has told him that before, except for his lovely wife. He smiled and kept shaking his head agreeing but still not wholly agreeing.

“I used to sing while I was a child, but my wife writes poetry and I sing them for her,” He told the inspector.

“Oh! that is great. Then why don’t you sing one of her poems,” The inspector was trying to make the old man feel very free to talk. At first, the old man tried to get away from the subject but the inspector kept on asking him and finally, he agreed.

Long away, from the sea,
I could see you on the tree.
The west wind brought your cry,
leaving the seas to dry.
The seas raging and sore,
my mind diving to its core.
It’s taking longer than I thought,
but I will get there soon and soon.

Be with my child,
and take care of my heart.

For soon shall I come and 
make a home again.
Take care of your own,
but none shall hurt you,
I can’t bear to see,
my home left all alone.

Stay strong my child,
Stay with my wife,
I will fly as fast,
as fast as wings could take.
I will bleed to death than
see your broken heart.
Make nicer songs,
for your father to sing.

I will reach soon and soon,
but no sooner than I thought.
There is war before noon
and I’ll fight with the rose I brought.

The old man’s eyes filled with tears as he finished the song. The inspector felt the pain in the song although he never liked poetry. But something in him just kept gnawing him.

“I am sorry, It is not that good, my wife, you know just writes the poems for me. So, it won’t be as good as the real poems you people read.” The old man was trying to make the situation lighter.

“Well, if this is not what they call poetry, then I am not going to read their books anymore,” the inspector and the old man smiled each other.

“My wife, she says it is about a father bird who goes far away to find a new home for his family which was destroyed by the attack some foul creatures. But you know, I think it suits perfectly for a man who is in the army, fighting a war, where he writes a letter to his family far away.”

The inspector smiled at how the old man had interests in his wife’s writings, “Its a poem, there are hidden meanings in it. Everyone would have different views on it.” The old man shook his head and looked at the sky which was now slowly getting dark. “So, why didn’t your wife join you here?”

The old man was not paying attention to the inspector anymore he kept staring at the sky for a long time and the inspector left him in his thoughts. Slowly he spoke in his stuttering voice.

“My wife has written thirty-seven poems so far. She never went to a college or got a good education. But she had a good heart which could give her the power to write good poems.” The old man looked at the inspector, with a face full of joy in it.

“I am sure she does have a great kind heart.” the inspector agreed with the old man.

“There was one occasion where she sang one of her poems at a wedding function in our village, there were so many people who loved to hear her songs. She was really nervous and kept asking me to join her on the stage and I did sing with her. Everyone stood up and applauded her when we finished.” The old man had a big smile on his face, his black eyes were glowing like the sun, he stuttered no more. The inspector listened to him very enthusiastically.

“Two days after the function, I was going to the market a little far from my home to sell the vegetables we farmed. She was writing a new poem which she promised would sing at another wedding which was a week later. It was raining and I had to take my brothers truck to the market. I could still see her standing at the doorways waving her hands at me.” The old man stopped, but he was looking at a tree far away like he was looking at his wife in his village. Then he continued.

“It took me some time to get the things sold and the rain was strong and roads were muddy and difficult to drive. I got home almost before lunch. But my home didn’t look the same as it used to be. The doors were wide opened and our garden in front was burned. I paced into my home looking for my wife. But all I saw was a motionless, cold white figure. The redshirt she was wearing was torn apart and I could see finger marks on her cheeks. She was strangled to death as the autopsy report said. She held a piece of paper in her hand which had a poem written on it. The one I sang to you now.” The old man started crying, he rubbed his eyes with his kerchief. The inspector was startled to hear the change of events, he was a police officer he wanted to know more about it.

“What happened? Who did that?” The inspector curiously asked the old man. It took a little while for the old man to respond to the question.

“The police said it was an attempted robbery, they believe there must be three or four people. My wife was a bold woman, she may have stopped her, and they have punished for what she did in the most brutal way.” The old man was crying again. The inspector moved towards him and put his hands over his shoulder and tried to comfort him.

“Did the police find them?” the inspector asked him just to find something to ease the pain out of his mind. The old man shook his head.

“No! they said they might have got into this city and I filed a case here three years ago and still nobody has found anything.” It was getting somewhat familiar for the inspector now, he remembers a case filed three years ago on a murder of a fifty-six-year-old woman at Rimmerett. He felt sorry for the old man, he couldn’t help him find justice.

“I am sorry, they will find the people behind it. Please don’t worry.” The inspector comforted the old man and he nodded and rubbed his tears with his kerchief.

Time past by, nobody talked to each other. It was getting dark, people were clearing the park and getting back to their burrows and nests. The old man broke the silence.

“You see, I and my wife were together for forty years and never had she ever complained me for anything. She always told me that God would take care of us. I was a practical man, God was just another word in the dictionary. But she prayed to God for me too. She always prayed for my good health, for my better future. But never had she prayed for herself. She knew, If I were alive and healthy I could take care of her. And her prayers were answered, God left me alive, healthy and strong, and for what. What is the purpose of this life if there is no one for me to live for? Sometimes I wish that she could have often prayed for herself than for me, then we both would have been alive and together. It is the philosophy of life, You can’t have everything in your life at once.”

“Everything happens for a purpose, we can’t change what happened. Sometimes the fate is cruel.” Said the inspector.

“It is getting dark. I have to get back to my village before morning. There is a lot of work to finish.” the old man slowly stood up from the bench and stretched his back and adjusted his hat. “You are right, inspector Sekar. Everything happens for a purpose.” The inspector was confused he never told the old man his name or he was an inspector, he was not even wearing the uniforms.

“Don’t worry, I know you are the inspector of this city, I have come to you several times. But you never had time to listen to me.” The old man smiled at the inspector. “I know why the Gods left me alive so that I could find the people who took away my wife from me. Let me tell you a secret, you need not have to look for the killers anymore, their business has been settled. I killed all of them just like they killed my wife. Actually, it was fun, watching the life squeezed out of their body. It made me feel like God. The same God my wife used to pray to.”

“I could arrest you right now. You know that, right.” said the inspector to the old man who turned out to be not the same guy he was talking to. The old man smiled.

“Yes, you could, inspector. you could. I really came here to kill you. I needed to confess everything to someone and I thought you would be the right person for that. Well, as I am finished I guess its time for you to join my wife.” The old man picked out a gun from his pocket. The inspector was really familiar with the gun, it was his. He had had it strapped to his belt. He searched the belt and the gun was missing. “How did it happen?” he thought to himself. And he found out that when he was trying to comfort the old man while he was crying he might have taken it from him.

“You are a clever old man.” the inspector frowned at him.

“My wife used to say that. But I still believe I am young. In my mind, I am still the young cool guy who used to roam around the villages with my friends. Well, you see I am really tempted to kill you, but I am going to leave you. Just because you liked my wife’s poem.”

The inspector laughed, he knew the old man was not as foolish as he thinks. “And you think you could escape?”

“I don’t think before doing. I just do things.” He took out a piece of paper and gave it to the inspector. That’s my address, I’ll be there when you wake up. You could come and catch me if you can. Remember, it is the philosophy of life”

“Wake up?” the inspector asked and suddenly his head banged into the bench and it all went black.

He was sweating, the heat was immense and his head ached. He slowly opened his eyes to see the bright sun and a number of joggers in the park. His senses returned to him and he stood up. Something was clenched in his wrist and he looked into it. That was a paper the old man gave him, it was written,

Melhert ville,
1125 road,
East Remmerett village,
Nortier

I will be waiting. I will not surrender. Come with your force to catch me.

The inspector smiled at the old man’s message. He could have gone after him. But deep inside his mind, he knew there was nothing wrong in what the old man did, he did what the police couldn’t and let the Gods decide what will become of him. It is the philosophy of life after all. He tore the paper and left it for the wind to play with.

Stay With Me, My Bard – A Story

bright countryside dawn daylight
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

“You’ve got 2 days,” the angry boss shouted at me. He frowned and waved his hand signaling me to get out of his office. I slowly collected the papers I gave him and walked out of the room. My eyes were filling up with tears. I could see my fellow colleagues, looking at me with sympathy. It was sure they were not that sad, they were just thinking how lucky they were to get a job here, that I was struggling to be on.

My name is Shirley, I am a trainee at the State Newspaper, one of the top newspapers of my country. It took me two whole years to find a job after graduating from college. At last, I got selected as an assistant reporter but I have to finish my training period of six months for becoming permanent. I was given an objective of submitting a story of social value and something that matched the level of this newspaper. I have submitted eight of them and every one of them was rejected by my boss. Now I have two more days left of my training period. I need to submit a story or I will lose the job.

Thima, One of my friend, who works as chief of the photographic department came to my desk. Her eyes were anxious to know what the boss told.

“What happened? What did he say?” she asked. The tears in my eyes were swiftly noticed by her. It was a great relief to have a person like her at the office. She was the only person I could rely on such a difficult situation.

“The same,” I told her and gave her the report that I submitted to the boss. At the bottom left corner of the page, it was written in red REJECTED. She patted on my shoulder.

“Don’t worry. I will talk to him. Let me see what I can do,” Thima, tried to comfort me.

“No, don’t. Its ok, I will find some other job. This may not be my field.” I said. So hard have I tried not to cry in front of her but I couldn’t. She embraced me.

“Go home. Just have a good sleep. It will be over. I am here for you.” She smiled at me. I thanked her and took my things and went out of that tremendously huge building. Why does a newspaper company want such a huge building? I’ve always wondered why.

It was way past afternoon. As I walked down the busy main road, I started to feel very uncomfortable. Something trying to squeeze the life out of me. I looked across the street and saw some children playing at the park with their parents. It was peaceful to watch. I walked across the street to the park. The place was such relief from this miserable city. I slowly walked down the pavement in the park, breathing some fresh air, syncing in with nature. But something else caught me. Near the trees, on the green grassy ground sat a young man with a guitar. He was playing it, I could hear the faint sound of its rhythm. I walked towards him to get a clear picture. It was sublime, the fast but melodious tune made my soul elevated. My body was now moving to his tracks.

Further, I went in I saw that there were no one around, just him. But hardly did I see, that he was not alone. Around him, in a semi-circle with him as the center sat many birds and rabbits, rats and squirrels and so many other creatures that I have rarely seen in this city. It felt really magical to me. These creatures around him had their eyes locked at him, moving to his tune. The sunlight struck his face making him look more majestic.

The music pulled me towards him, I was a little over ten feet closer to him. But neither he nor the creatures bothered to look at me. I waited there, closed my eyes and listened to it, going with the flow. Then suddenly the music stopped, I was in a beautiful world. It took me some time to realize that the music stopped. When I opened my eyes all I could see was the birds fly off, the rabbits and squirrels running back to their burrows and holes. The man was doing something with his guitar.

“It was great. Your music,” I tried to appreciate him. It felt awkward for me to start a conversation with a stranger who was not at all paying attention to me.

“Oh! you heard my music” he turned to me and asked doubtfully. His face became more clear now. Pale and skinny it was. He sported a goatee and a nice thick mustache. His dress looked like someone from a play. White button-downed shirt and a black overcoat with same color pants. He had a black bandana covering his head.

“Yes, I was listening to it. Sorry if I interrupted you” I apologized to him for intruding in.

“No, I am much obliged that you listened to my music. Not many people here could enjoy it,” he said with a smile that could light the whole park. I felt so impressed by the man’s words. He made me feel lighter and completely stress-free. His smile made me smile.

“Yeah, they don’t have time for these things. They are always running after something they can’t get.” I told him.

“You are not like them, I assume?” He asked me still sitting on the ground and tapping on his guitar.

“No, I am one of them. The same, who run after something I can never get my hands on.” I sighed, my mind went back to the boss and my job.

“I don’t think so. You are not one of them, fair lady.” He told me. It felt weird. His talking and dressing evoked some doubts in me. I nodded just to agree with him.

“Where are you from? You don’t look like a person from here” I asked him just to make my doubts clear. He smiled at me. His blue eyes twinkled like pearls in the light. The long skinny face looked like a piece of diamond. He held the guitar and started to play some notes. He was trying to hypnotize me or I thought so. I sat on the soft, cozy ground near him. He was murmuring something slowly, his melodious light voice echoed through the trees.

Where I come you ask,
thus where I come I shall tell you.
Between the green mountains and
above sundry rivers, I dwell
were all my folks are doing well.
Listen up to the woods that we do,
to look them up is what we need.
From the sky, we fly,
from the seas, we swam,
from the Earth, we grew and
to depths, we find the heart of our woods.

Still, where I come you may ask,
which I can’t tell.
Listen up, It lies far away,
to the east, you may look,
to the west, you shall find,
to the north, it lies,
from the south, you will go.
Thus where it is you shall find,
When my music shows,
my heart of earth and
the earth of all my heart.
I stop to leave it to your mind,
where you can find it for yourself,
tomorrow you will see,
or is it after-tomorrow
or in the tomorrow’s to come.
I leave you to your mind and my woods,
where you will find my place and what you seek.

He stopped there, I still was flowing in his soft melodious voice that I failed to decrypt most of his message. I found out that he didn’t want to reveal where he was from. But something in my mind told me to keep up with him. I found a fascinating story in him that I could write and submit to my boss. It may work I thought to myself.

“So, you live in a forest?” I asked.

“You may call me a forest dweller, where I live with my kin in the middle of my fellow trees. and I will call you city dwellers, where you fight with your own folks in the middle of earth eating structures.” He told me, his face started to become red. I was not sure if it was because I called him a forest dweller, I didn’t call him that anyway. Suddenly his face turned back to normal. A smile he gave me, that eased the tension.

“I see that you are not a city dweller.” He asked me. He started to lean towards me and stared right into my eyes. I felt that he was looking into my soul. There was a cool breeze, that went through me. I wanted to move away but I thought not to.

“No,” I told him looking back into his eyes. He smiled and lifted his hands. There in his right hand held a small green leaf or something that looked like one.

“What is it?” I smiled and asked him. There was something incredible with that leaf that made me want to get it from him.

“This is a Leaf of the Great Radhar tree, it is considered sacred by my kin. I gift it to you”. He held it with great pride and stretched it towards me. The man didn’t hand it to me. He slowly stuck it to my left ear. I felt completely embarrassed, but something in it made me sit still and wait for him to finish it.

He leaned back after that and smiled at me.

“It suits you perfectly,” he said. I was blushing. His pale face and blue eyes seemed to make a somewhat good image in me.

“How did you find I was not a city dweller?” I asked suddenly remembering where I left off. His smile widened, the blue eyes shining, going deeper into my soul.

“I can see it in you.” He slowly held my hand and placed his warm, softer hands on my palm. “Your hand, it shows who you are. I can feel the nature in you. The world in that you love, not this busy land. Somewhere in you lies a forest full of happy roses and gentle streams. I see it in you.” All this time, he was looking inside my heart. It was all true, I grew up with my parents in a village near a stream, they were farmers. I don’t know how he found it out, but I always loved to be in my garden full of roses.

Suddenly he started to stand up and strap the guitar on his back. It all happened in a second or two. I was stunned to see him suddenly recover from a position like it.

“Oh! You are leaving?” I asked him. I didn’t want him to go to be true, his diamond face, pearl blue eyes and his melodious voice all wanted me to make him stay.

“Yes, fair lady. I must be moving.”
“My mother calls me, there are woods
I need to see before going back into the depths of my land.
So many are the trees that I have to listen upon before I go back.
Fewer are the steps to the depths, still, it is the fairest you will see.
I must be going, there are woods I need to see before going back.”

He sang a song as a reply. What was he? I wondered. Still, I wanted him to be with me, telling me more of his stories, singing more of his land.

“What is your name?” I asked him. His smile faded, the blue eyes left lifeless, the pale diamond shape turned red. I wanted to take back the question, but he smiled again.

“No name of mine shall I tell you,
for you may call me forest dweller,
tree listener so can you call,
or a beloved singer, so and on.
Farewell to you, fair lady,
you’ve been nice to this lonely singer,
who listened to the songs which none did,
sooner we may meet, but no sooner I say.”

I knew he was saying goodbye to me, which he did and walked away without looking back again. Into the depths, as he said, he went. Well, the sun started to get low and I needed to get home but I didn’t want to go back into that four-walled cage of mine. There was a long debate between me and myself. And I decided to go back to my cage.

All the way, his music played in my head. Who was he? What was his purpose here? Was he a thief or someone who hypnotized people into liking him and rob them? No, I don’t think so.

It was getting very late, I failed to keep track of time. It was an almost dark night. I didn’t want to go back to my apartment. The guitar guy was all in my mind and my head. What was wrong with me? His music got a hold of me. And suddenly I saw a dark image of what looked like the guitar guy pass across the road. It was dark, I was not sure if it was him, but I wanted to find out.

I followed him through the paved silent path. Nobody was out and it was an uncomfortably cold night. I crossed the road and followed the black figure. It was him I was sure, same height and size. And now he was playing the violin, but no sound came out of it. Behind him followed some animals. Dogs and cats mainly. I kept a safe distance between us. He turned right into a narrow and dark gap between two buildings. I hid behind a garbage bin and peeped out. I wanted to call him but I waited to see what he was going to do.

Suddenly he stopped and turned back. My heart started to pound faster now. It was not a good idea I thought, but I waited there for something to happen and it did. One or two dogs started to bark. The sound of it started to grow as it was slowly moving towards my direction. I began to move away from my hiding and paced my way out of there. But as I looked back the dogs were now running towards me, in fact, three or more dogs and a countless number of cats were following me. They looked frightening. I ran from there. No one could be seen on the streets. What was happening? I thought. Suddenly, one of the dogs got hold of my pants and bit me. I felt no pain, was it because of the adrenaline rush I do not know. But many other creatures jumped on me. It scratched me, another one bit me on my neck and it bit deep. Blood covered my face and flowed on the streets. I cried out loud but only that no sound came from me. Slowly blackness covered my eyes. The only thing I had in my mind was why the man had to kill me? Was that because I followed him. But a familiar sound came into my slowly dying senses. A distant sound of a guitar. It was roaring in the silent night. The dogs and other deadly creatures on me scattered and ran away. My eyes were covered with blood, but I could see the face of the cruel guitarist before me.

“You?” I frowned at him. Only a faint sound came from me. But he looked like he heard me.

“It was not me. Come on I will take you somewhere else. It is not safe here anymore.” He told and lifted me up. He started to shout out loud and a white light surrounded us. I could not see clearly, but the white light seemed to grow every second. My Eyelids felt heavy, it slowly closed. It was the end I knew that.

“Stay with me. I’ll save you.” He told me, but I fell into a deep sleep.

The barking of the dogs was heard again and I woke up from my sleep. I looked around nothing looked familiar. My head ached and my neck hurt. I rubbed my eyes slowly and again looked around. A wooden cabin it was. A strange but mind-bending aroma filled the room and it made lose all my pain. I felt the bed, it was all leaves and some flower petals. It was soft and the most beautiful bed ever to be seen by a human being. I smiled and wondered where I was. A sudden cool wind blew through the opening in the right side of the room. That’s when I got a look of where I was. My eyes widened, I walked out of my bed to the opening. Outside it was all Yellow trees. Not yellow, more like Gold, it glimmered in the bright light of the sun. I was in heaven or somewhere better than that.

“I see you are awake and perfect,” a voice from behind woke me up from me wondering. The voice was familiar, I hesitated for a second, should I look back. Truly I wanted to but he tried to kill me. Anyway, I turned back to see a man, the same man with the guitar but now looked different. He didn’t wear the bandana, his long hair, black from the top but became gold and white while going down. It reached his shoulders. His beard as same as before had a slight gold color now.  He wore a perfectly fitted white shirt and black pants, with a smaller guitar on his hands, it looked like some kind of a mandolin.

“Yeah!” I told him but for a second I was stunned, I wasn’t wearing the same clothes I did before. It was now a white long gown or something. “What is this? Where are my clothes?” I asked in wonder.

“Oh! yours were all blood and dirty, I had to put this on you.” He said smiling. I was bewildered by his reply. Did he put this on me, or someone else did?

“Don’t worry, It was not me. Mother put this on you.” He answered my questions. He did understand my heart.  I smiled finding that it was his mother. Then I came back to reality.

“Where am I? What happened? Why did you try to kill me?” I shot out my questions one by one to him. His smile disappeared, but this time his face did not turn red.

“Come on out, I’ll tell all you want to know.” He told me and went to a door. It didn’t look like a door but a wooden wall that suddenly opened on his command. I walked out with him and my jaw dropped. Now there were trees with rose leaves all around us. The further I went out, I could see in the distance green, red, rose, yellow, white and gold-colored trees. The ground was all fresh green grass with white flowers blossomed. It was a paradise. He stopped at the middle of the ground and turned back and with great pride he said:

“Welcome to Lorkieda, My land.”

I looked back and saw a huge tree lying on the ground. I was sleeping inside that tree, and I guess he lives in it.

“Yes, I do live in that great tree.” He said answering to my thoughts. “It has been here even before I was born. My mother brought me here.” The place was a paradise, there were trees everywhere, flowers of all kind on it. The wind brought down a few flowers on them. I jumped out of joy, can this be real or am I still dead. Either way, I don’t want to go back. A few white rabbits ran towards the man and knelt and patted them.

“Can I?” I asked him, I couldn’t contain their cuteness. He smiled and nodded. I walked towards them but they didn’t want to come near me. The man kept a hand on them and spoke some unknown language to them and the rabbits came to me. I held one and others jumped on me. I laughed. They were so fun to play with.

“What is this place?” I wanted to know more about this place. He smiled and pointed up into the sky. A bright white light was seen, It must be the sun I thought, but it wasn’t. It was white and kept us from seeing anything more in the sky. Slowly, the light made way to the thick blue sky, there were so many other bright lights in the sky, like stars on a night sky. It kept me wondered.

“I know you would not understand anything. I may not have the time to tell you everything, but I will give answers to your question. But first, you must follow me.” He said. And I stood up from the green grass and walked after him. The rabbits were in my hand and some followed me.

We walked for a while, nobody talked. I was still enjoying the surroundings. This is not at all a place in my city or even my world. I was surely in some fantasy magical land.

“It was not me, you saw last night,” he broke the silence. He was still walking. I waited for him to complete it. We reached before a giant river that gently flows over green grassland. It was white and the clearest water I’ve ever seen.

“Listen, things you are going to hear are not meant for mortals to know.  We should not talk with mortals and not ever bring one to our Land.” He said turning back at me. “So what I tell you must be kept a secret and protect it with your life, will you do that?”

“Yes, I will,” I agreed to him. No matter what happened I wanted to know everything.

“Wonderful,” he sighed, we sat by the river and he continued talking but I stopped him.

“Could you sing it for me”. He smiled and took his Mandolin and played a note.

“The land you see is the land I live,
from the trees up high to the ground down low.
See for you know its the land of Lords, and
Lords it is who lives down here,
for I am but a noble servant of them.
To look after the woods is all I do,
and listen up to them is all I need.
Could I see a tree life suffer,
no, I can’t and see a fair lady hurt,
that I will never too.
My job is to make things good for,
all life’s on the Earth.
To make a place like the Land you see,
and the land you see is the land I live.

Not just me are the servants of the Gods,
many such folks do what they should,
like the seaman who looks under the waters
and sky people who care the pure light
and one such was that you saw yestereve,
cruel he is not, but its what he does.
While I hear trees and cure the ill,
with the music, I’ve been blessed with,
just like all my folks.
Music, he does use to find the life’s
which, are ill that make our woods unwell.
He finds them, binds them and brings them,
to the Lords of doom, he sends them.
Time bought you to him,
or it was me some doubts,
Not some doubts, but it was me.
Apologize, I could, that is all,
a tree lover, a life saver, a noble servant do.

But you are in the Land you see,
the Land I live, from trees up high
and ground down deep my feet.
Angel among mortal you are,
for I am blessed to have met the
fairest of our enemies or what my folks say.
See our Land, fairest it is and
even fairer are my kin around.
The Land you see is my land,
The Land of Lords and Kings, and
The Land is Great Lorkieda.

The song kept echoing through the trees, the gently flowing river gave to support his music, and the wind played the best part of it. Making it more august.

“So, the other man who tried to kill me, he did so because he kills people who hurt the trees?” I asked curiously.

“Yes, he tried, but he couldn’t.” His face felt drooping. He was sorry for what happened to me and he blamed himself for it. “You remember I asked you “did you hear my music?” the first time we met at the park and you said “yes” 

“Yes, I remember,” getting back the images of our first meeting.

“That is because my music can only be heard by the people who are trees in nature. People who give everything to others not bothering to get anything in return. The people who value other lives. People who love the Earth. And you heard it. Seldom have I seen people like you. And that is why I gave you the Leaf of Great Radhar tree. This leaf in your ear will stop you from hearing evil voices which dwells all around us and will help me to find you in need.”

“So, that is how you found me when I was being attacked.” I finally understood all the jigsaw puzzles.

“Yes, but you couldn’t hear the other folk’s music, could you?” He asked.

“No, It was all silence. Why was that? Was he evil?” I asked out of fear. I have seen evil humans but never seen an evil like that.

“No, he is no evil. But the music he played was not meant for you or people of your kind. But if he or the creatures possessed by him see any mortals around them. They won’t leave anyone to tell the tale. That was why they attacked you.”

“So are we safe now?” I enquired. His face had fear in it, the blue eyes looked confused.

“No, he will find us here. When he reach here you can go back to your land and that won’t be long” he raised his hands and felt the wind. He spoke something to the wind in an unknown language. “He is near, we need to find your way back ere he comes.”

“But, wouldn’t you be in trouble if they found out you brought me here?” I asked him, I didn’t want anything to happen to him because of me. He didn’t reply, I repeated the question, after a silence he spoke.

“I need to get you back safe first. My way, that I can find out.” That explanation was not good enough for me. But he didn’t care to tell me more. We stood up and walked and reached a place that was all white. Grasses were thick white. The trees had a brown trunk but the leaves were all snow white. It was not snow, but it was how it was.

“Where are we now?” I asked not seeing anything else around us. He had a big smile on his face.

“We are here to see my mother,”  he said. I was excited to meet his mother, how lucky she would be to have a son like him, I wondered. The path led nowhere but suddenly he stopped and knelt. He plucked a small white grass and chanted a song in the unknown language. And a yellow light appeared in front of us.

“That is my mother,” he said. The yellow light stood straight to my eyes. It was just a light, as big as a pigeon. But to my surprise, it spoke.

“Welcome to Lorkieda, Lady Mortal.” It had an austere womanish voice. I felt it was staring at me. The one thing I loved was how they called me. Fair lady, he called me and now Lady mortal, his mother calls.

“You must not be here. This place will bring danger to you but I know why my son brought you here. I can’t stay here long nor can you. But I say one thing to you. Look after our trees. Because we were the one that planted all these even before the dawn of living creatures. Protect it and one day you can rightfully be here.” It said and slowly started to disappear. I didn’t ask him much and I think he didn’t want me too. He stood there and didn’t move.

The wind started to get stronger and mightier, a sense of danger grew around us. Is this the other man. I do not know but something was not right, I could see it in his eyes. He knelt near a white tree that looked fresh and young, he began to speak with it. The same unknown language but the tree now began to move to his pitch and so did the rest of the white trees, they all were swaying to and fro. Now he stood up and held his mandolin and started playing it.

The wind was stronger now, really strong. I was hardly holding on but he kept playing, harder and louder was now its sound. I turned back and saw another figure, the same person I saw other night, he was holding the violin. He came briskly towards us and was playing it. I couldn’t hear it like he told me, but from his playing, I could feel the rage in it.

I held on to my man’s arms but he was staring out front and now at the high voice he sang,

“Mother of mine and all my kin,
I plead to all my might and all the sin
to have a drop of your life on the fair lady,
my fair lady.
Open up her world, and let she be freed,
where she will look after what is ours,
and wait for you to take her to the Lord’s hours.

Mother of mine and all my kin,
I plead to all my might and all the sin,
let tomorrow be with her and in her world,
where she will be the angel you wanted me to be”

The bright yellow light appeared again and now bigger than me, it glowed, making the whole place yellow.

“GO!” He told me and looked back, the other man was running towards us with his violin.

“What about you?” I asked I would not leave him with the other man. I would never.

“Don’t worry about me, I will always be here looking after you, waiting for you to be here when my mother calls you.”

The other man was real close and the almost got hold of me then my man played a loud note on his mandolin and the other man was blown away. The wind became even stronger and mightier.

GO NOW!” he shouted and forced me into the yellow light. He smiled and held my hand.

“Aarshan Shegar of the woodland clan, my name it is. You asked me once but I didn’t tell you. Farewell, my fair lady.” he said, tears filled my eyes, I saw the other man jump over him and the light went away and I was lying on a dark road. It was night and no one around. I was wearing the old dress that I did before and it was the place where the dogs attacked me. I knelt there and cried a lot not knowing what happened to him.

Days went on, I lost my job. I could have written the stories he told me but I wouldn’t, I promised him. Instead, I went back to my parent’s village, did farming and lived the rest of my days there. But that was not enough for me, I searched every kind of book and every source of knowledge to get more of the place I visited. But none could be found.

Slowly the memories disappeared and the leaf he gave me, I planted it on my farm. A rose flower grew from it, I was not sure how it happened but it was beautiful. Years and years went by and one day I heard the music of the man again. His soft, melodious voice with mandoline in the background, I knew he was out there looking over me. I would find him one day and together we will live in his tree home.

“Sooner we may meet, but no sooner I say”

Shadows Of Sector 12 – A Short Story

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The thunderbolts pierced the dark night sky. The bright full moon hiding under the misty clouds. Raging storm shook the ground itself. Under the black clouds lay the Sector 11 of South River Railway track. A narrow and old track that had been there for over a century or two. Beside it stood an old lonely wooden cabin. It was as old as the tracks have been.

Inside the cabin, a man was asleep in his chair. His brown uniforms were cold and wet. Water dripping through his black hair and falling down into the wooden floor with a splash. The lightning and thunder couldn’t wake him, but suddenly he jolted up from his sleep when his telephone rang.

“Where are you, Idiot?” shouted a harsh voice from the other end as soon as he put the receiver on to his left ear. He was fully awake now.

“I was asleep,” He said to the other man. He rubbed his sleepy eyes and looked around. It was complete darkness, the only source of light was the lightning outside. When it flashed, it lit the whole room like a day.

“I don’t pay you to sleep there,” said the harsh voice who was possibly his boss. “There is trouble at the Sector 12, go and see what it is,” demanded the boss.

The man’s eyes widened. Fear went through his spine leaving him motionless.

“Haven’t you heard me, Ravi?” asked the boss again.

“Yes sir, but it’s not my area.” Ravi tried to slip away from the duty that his boss gave him. He knew it was of no use. Ravi had been a gatekeeper of the Sector 11 of South River Railways for 6 years but never had he crossed the borders to Sector 12. It held something terrible that no one could find out.

“I don’t care whose area it is, you are going to check that place out and report back to me. Understood?” The Boss ordered him. Ravi had no other option if he had to continue his job he would have to obey his Boss.

“I understand, sir” Ravi replied to the Boss in a low quiver voice. He slowly put the receiver back to the telephone and stretched his back on the chair.  The storm outside was strong and fierce. He closed his eyes to sync with the reality, find some courage and confidence. After a while, he opened his eyes. Darkness filled has filled it. He slowly stretched his hands on the table and found the torch and lit it.

The room was small and worn out. The roof was leaking here and there. There was nothing much in the room except a wooden table and chair. He took an overcoat that hung on his chair. It was wet and cold. Ravi wore it and opened the cabin door. Cold wind raced inside, the darkness seemed to spread everywhere. He walked out to find Manu sleeping outside covered in a woolen blanket that kept him warm and cozy.

Manu was more like an assistant to him. He was not employed by the Railways or by Ravi. On a cold unhappy night 5 years ago, when Ravi has just joined the Sector 11, he found Manu sleeping outside his cabin, cold and hungry. Ravi gave him food, a place to live. He was more like a protector for Ravi. Manu made Ravi feel that he was not alone here.

Ravi looked at Manu sleeping and called him.

“Wake up, Manu,”

Manu hearing his employer’s voice slowly woke up from his warm woolen blanket. He was about to ask some questions but Ravi sensed Manu’s doubts and answered him first.

“We’re going to check Sector 12. Boss called. He said there’s some trouble,” Ravi told Manu. He kept staring at Ravi.

“Don’t worry, it won’t be too long” Ravi comforted him. His hard manly voice gave Manu the courage to do the impossible. They both walked out into the tracks and went south to their cabin. The rain was stronger than before. The cold wind made them both very uncomfortable.

Ravi was not sure how long Manu had been around these Sectors but from the way he sleeps outside the cabin on such a cold night could say that he had been born in this place. Still, one thing that haunted Ravi was, if he was born or raised here why is he afraid of Sector 12.

Surely everyone was afraid of Sector 12. It was a railway gate where no man guarded it. Not because it was automatic, it was because no man who loved his life went there. The Sector 12 was covered by Dense forest where nobody inhabited. Ravi had heard of many stories of Sector 12. The rumor was that almost 7 gatekeepers had died there. They were killed by some unearthly creatures. Some said that it was the ghosts of people who suicided in the tracks. There were a lot of stories like these. Still, a job is a job. Ravi had to do it, whether he liked it or not.

They knew they were close to Sector 12 when they saw the forest around them got thicker and thicker. The darkness grew, their eyes could not see what was in front of them. Even the light from the torch was blocked by the darkness. Ravi was starting to feel the hidden fear inside him. What he feared he not know. Yet he feared something. He could feel that many a thing was watching him from the darkness. The cold black eyes were able to make Manu think about to take another step further. But he saw Ravi walk right to the Sector 12 and he followed his employer.

Now they were inside the borders of Sector 12. Both of them made no noise. Their steps were stealthy. They didn’t want to wake what dwelt there. From the light from the torch Ravi could see a small cabin, the same as his, in a distance. The only difference was that it missed a wall on one side. It was broken down into pieces. Still, the cabin stood upright. They didn’t go for the cabin, they just kept walking further on the tracks.

Then they saw it. The trouble they were sent to check out. A huge tree fell over the tracks. It was black, thick as five men and taller than a usual tree grew. Ravi sighed.

“It’s not our kind of problem, Manu. Let’s  go back and report the Boss.” Ravi told Manu. He was delighted that there was nothing they could do. Both of them had no tools even if they had them. It was of no use. Manu’s eyes glittered. The feel of exhilaration ran on his body. He smiled at Ravi but that smile faded away when he heard a noise from their right.  It came from the vast spread darkness. They were not sure where it came from, the forest or the cabin. But it almost resembled a sound of a tree falling down.

“It must be the storm,” said Ravi trying to comfort himself and his partner. “Let’s get out of here.” They walked faster now, back to their area. Manu led the way who wanted to go back to safety.

“WATCH OUT!!” shouted Ravi when he saw a tree, the same as the one that lied on the track, black and thick, fell just before Manu. Both of them stood petrified. They knew they were trapped. Manu slowly walked towards Ravi looking around him. Ravi kept glancing at all sides. Nothing could be seen anywhere. He knew they were being watched and there was no escape.

Suddenly Ravi saw something ran through the woods. It was dark, he was not sure. But he clearly heard the sound of the feet. undoubtedly it was not the rain. Ravi was thirty-three, he could easily pick out the sound of footstep and rain. He sensed that Manu was standing really close to him, he was cold and shivering. Ravi put his hands over his shoulders.

“Don’t worry we’re going to get out of here,” Said Ravi and started to walk forward but not so long before he sensed another figure pass over their back. He stood frozen and turned back instantly. Ravi was startled to see something impossible. The tree they saw that was lying on the tracks has now disappeared. He stared at the scene just to find out if he was looking in the right direction. Yes, he was. There was a tree before but now there was not even a sign of a tree. But Manu wasn’t looking at the disappeared tree, he was staring at something else. A bolt of sudden lightning lit all the area. Manu gave a cry and ran further into the Sector 12.

“Stop!” Ravi shouted but only in a lower voice. Manu did not at all hear him. He kept running until another lightning lit the Sector. Ravi ran after him and had almost reached Manu when he ran to the sideways, away from the track. There was no other way for Ravi but to follow Manu, maybe he knew a path to get out of this godforsaken place. Ravi could hear a lot of noises from behind, he could feel a bunch of things following him. They were near only a hand’s distance. Both of them was running through an unpenetrable forest. Suddenly Manu climbed onto a huge tree. He was so skilled in climbing than he looked to be.

Ravi stood under the tree looking at the pace Manu was climbing. He didn’t know how to climb but there were those creature-things on his back, there were no other choices. It took some effort to climb such a huge tree. They both reached almost the top. The wind began to blow even stronger than before, trying to bring them down. Ravi now noticed those things that were following him, did that no more. He looked around. All he could see was an ocean of darkness. They sat there on a long, strong branch for a long time.

The wind slowed down, the storm passed. The bright full moon came out of hiding, now lighting all the place below its vision. Ravi could see where they were. They have run a long way from their cabin. They were in the heart of Sector 12. There’s no going back. He looked down, there was nothing. Things that followed him was nowhere to be seen. But he could see that there were movements in the woods. It must be the things that followed him.

Ravi just went through what just happened. He remembered looking back at his followers just before climbing onto the tree. They looked dark and inhuman, they neither had any shape or color. It was like, looking right back at his own shadows, only that there were hundreds of them. He knew that there can only be shadows if there is any light. And there was no light at all, the only source of light was his torch that he lost while he ran from them. Then whose shadows were those. Were they just shadows without a body, like the stories of ghosts that haunted the area? Do ghosts hunt in a pack? He thought to himself. But he was sure that they were no such thing as a ghost or a human, they were shadows of Darkness.

Time passed by, they were sitting on top of one of the highest trees. Ravi looked at Manu, who was now deep in his thoughts, there was neither fear nor worries in his eyes. It shined in the moonlight. Glittering like the stars in the night sky. Manu looked back at him.

Ravi was feeling terribly cold, his uniform was all wet, he started to feel that he was not getting enough air to breathe. The cold and heights were stopping him from breathing. His eyelids were now heavy, not able to open it. Manu could see that Ravi was slowly falling to his deep sleep, where he won’t wake up again.

They both heard a noise from below, it sounded like a grumbling of a beast, yet it sounded deadly. There were many now, but none could be seen. Ravi’s heart started to pound. He was terribly shivering from the cold. Manu looked at him with care, his eyes were now sad, filled with pain.

“We’re going to die, Manu,” Ravi said patting Manu’s head. His silky smooth hair made Ravi’s cold hands warm. “Don’t worry, it won’t be late.”

Ravi looked down now, to his fate. There were two choices either die of cold, at the hands of nature or die at the hands of the shadows. He could see there were many of the shadow creatures lurking around the tree they were on. Many appeared from the dark forest. It was scary, it was death.

Ravi slowly tried to climb down. Manu caught his hands and made him sit where he was before. His bright shining eyes now stared at Ravi’s.

“There’s no other way, Manu. I am sorry.” Said Ravi, tears flowing through his eyes. “I am sorry, I brought you here. It was my fault.”

Manu barked now. A voice that was high enough for everyone around the area to hear. Ravi looked at him. Manu barked again. He was trying to get the attention of the shadows below. He looked down and now to Ravi’s eyes. Ravi was confused about his actions.

Manu then eyed towards the Sector 11 in the distance and back to Ravi and again to Sector 11. Then he barked slowly and looked down to the shadows. Ravi didn’t understand him first. Then he knew what Manu was trying to say. He wanted Ravi to make a run for Sector 11 while he will divert the shadows from there.

“No! No!” Ravi patted, disagreeing with Manu. “I am not leaving you with the shadows. We’ll die together”

Manu looked at Ravi, his eyes were now joy and happiness. He barked again.

Ravi could not control his emotions. Manu, his dog, he found him outside his cabin. He never looked him as a dog or called him a dog. For him, Manu was his best friend who loved him, cared for him, who was always there for him. Manu saw Ravi as his God, who raised him and gave him food and shelter. Now it was time for him to return his favor.

Ravi patted his smooth shiny brown hair and looked at the blue collar he wore. Manu walked to Ravi and licked his face. Then stared right at his eyes. He was trying to say his goodbyes. Then he swiftly climbed down the tree. On halfway he turned back and barked at Ravi, signaling him to get ready. Then he flew down to the shadows and ran as fast as he could, to the deeper forest. Ravi could see many a thing following Manu from every direction. The moon shone more brightly, giving Ravi a good view of the place he was in. There was no one around. He slowly climbed down and reached the surface. Ravi looked at the way Manu ran, he thought of following him but he did not. Manu risked his life to save him and he did not want Manu to die for nothing.

Ravi ran back the way they came and reached the tracks and from there he ran to Sector 11. After some time he passed the borders of Sector 12. His cabin was in his view. Just before he could reach there he heard a loud cry, it was familiar. It was Manu’s.

“Manu!” he kneeled on the track and cried. Then he woke up and walked into the cabin. He dialed his boss and explained everything to him. Later a team of police came and searched the area but nothing was found. They found no tree that fell over the track nor any traces of the shadow creatures. Manu was not found.

Ravi resigned after the event and went on to work at a supermarket, where he was not alone. Days past a new man was assigned at Sector 11. He was a young man who dared to take the adventure and he was alone. On his first night at the cabin, he heard a banging at his door. He, with some fear,  opened the door and found someone he felt very pleased to see. A dog with smooth and shiny brown hair and wearing a blue collar. It stared at the new man. He welcomed it inside and gave him food and kept him with him.

Days passed and he stayed with the new man, guarding him against the shadows of darkness, just like he did to his predecessor in his old lonely wooden cabin on the Sector 11 of South River Railways.

To The Sun And Glory – A story

15492617_1798368837068878_4013302870783024467_n ©copyrights to picture belongs to Nikhil Achu.

  The day was on its way to reach its peak. The glittering Sun hiding and peeping through the white old clouds who were moving swiftly through the open sky. Trees and grass were green shining in the light, allure in the wonderful morning. A huge mansion almost being able to touch the old clouds stood upright, grey and shining with happiness. Indeed the bright Sun spread its merry all over. 

 An old man opened the door of the mansion, warm light left his face beaming. 

“Wonderful morning it is.” He told himself. His short white beard shined in the sunlight. Pale skin became paler with the light. He smiled very pleasantly, as he did it every morning. But now he had to get back to his work. The old man went back into his mansion seeking his room. The large wooden furnished room glimmered in the morning, offering a warm welcome.  He walked into the room smiling and with a mind full of happiness.

But all those happiness went down when he saw something was missing. His face went dull, his smile faded. Fear filled his eyes. He kept looking on his desk, searched under the table, the chair, inside his drawers. There was nothing. He knew that was not the place he kept it. Still, he had to look everywhere. 

“Where is it?” He shouted out loud. His face became red as an apple and a volcano about to rupture. The voice almost shook the mansion, a lady of late forties suddenly appeared at the door side. 

“Is there a problem, sir?” asked the lady with a little hesitation. 

He barely heard her voice under his temper. The very fine morning was now darkening. The lady moved towards the old man. In the middle, she was stunned by another image to the right side of the room. Her pupils dilated and were gasping for breath. 

“Oh!” She walked even faster to the scene. Still in shock. Looking towards a broken cupboard, and peeped over her shoulder to look at the old man then she called out in a trembling voice

“Mr. Sarvan!!” then a shrieking sound came out of Mr. Sarvan’s mouth out of fear that could not be expressed. The lady now was dialing someone on her phone, her hands shivered as she placed the phone to her left ear.

“Police station!!.” She spoke out loud.

It took some time for the police to reach the lonely mansion that was way far from the city. They were sure of the address as there were no other residents on this part of the State. And the name of the mansion suited its location “Lonely Mansion”.  The car stopped at its doorstep and a stout man came out followed by another tough looking man, both were in uniforms. They knocked on the door even though the door was open. The lady walked towards them.

“Are you the one who called us?” Chief of the policemen asked just to make sure. The lady was afraid to see two policemen at front door even though she was the one who called them. 

“Yes,” she answered them after a short moment “come on, this way” through the living room they climbed up the stairs to a large room that smelt like a library. 

“Is this your house ma’am?” asked the policeman.

“No, this is Mr. Jaron Sarvan’s home, I am his housekeeper,” she told them as they walked into the room. 

“There,” she pointed towards the right corner of the room, where there was a brown cupboard broke open.  The policemen walked towards the cupboard and investigated it. They kept looking around, observing the scene, searching for shreds of evidence.

“When did the break-in happen?” asked one of the policemen. 

“I didn’t hear anything, it was perfect yesterday. I saw it when Mr.Sarvan called out today morning.” She was not sure but still managed to give an answer.

“Is there anything missing?” they kept questioning.

“Yes, 50,000 Rs. It was kept safe in here,” she answered.

“Anything else,” they asked.

“Yes, My Pen!” the old man who had a drooping face filled with pain and despair, leaned on to the table with his hands on it supporting his body. He looked at them. The policemen walked towards the old man.

“Good morning, Mr. Sarvan” greeted the chief policeman.

The old man frowned at the chief.“Not a very “good” morning it seems. I lost my Pen.”

“Oh! actually, sir, I asked if something else of value was stolen.” responded the policeman scratching his head, who now thought the old man was trying to be sarcastic.

“That’s what I said. I lost my pen. It was very much valuable to me. You know nothing about it. I left it on my table yesterday night and this morning it is missing.” He felt annoyed by the Chief’s words.

The policemen were not ready to continue questioning him, they doubted his sanity. But they had no other way, there indeed had been a break-in that too on one of the most important people in this Country and a huge amount was missing and of course a pen!.

“Okay, so what kind of a pen is it?” the policeman asked him for further details.

“It is a fountain pen, black in color. It looks old and weighs more than a usual fountain pen.” His eyes glowed with such power and kept on saying every single detail of the pen until the policemen stopped him. They had everything written down and went to investigate around the mansion. The old man went back to the chair near the table. 

Several minutes past, the policemen returned. They didn’t look like they found anything. Still, they loitered around the room. Questioning both of them.

“Well we didn’t find much to support your grievance, anyway we’ll report to you if we find something.” said the policemen and went away in their car. The lady walked them out and after they were gone she went to Mr.Jaron Sarvan. He was a popular fiction writer, very popular and a former Member of Parliament. One of the most influential people of this Nation. She didn’t know why he was so depressed about losing a pen. Anyway, that was not her matter to run into. 

“Sir, don’t worry. I am sure they will find what was lost” She spoke out to comfort him but he was not in a mood to hear sympathetic speeches.

“Miss Farana, you may go home. Take a leave. I will call if anything is needed.” He spoke in a low desperate voice, that was only a step above a whisper. The man was helpless, she could not leave him in such a situation. That would be cruel. 

“What? I can’t leave you in this way, sir!” she was weeping “What if it happens again?” she tried to make Sarvan let her stay there. But he could not. It was not that he didn’t like her, She had been with him for the past 9 years. But now it was time for her to go.

“There is not much to take away from me,” he told her with a pale and cold face, his eyes were red with sorrow, his hands shivering. He slowly walked away from the room. Late that day after making the breakfast and lunch Miss Farana ended her relationship with the Lonely mansion. It broke her heart to leave him like that. But if he insisted, she must obey it.

Months passed by,  the old man stayed home. Nobody has seen him out in the city. Even his friends had rarely seen him after the event.

One day the Lonely mansion’s doorbell rang. Its sound echoed through the lifeless walls. It took a long time for someone to answer the door. Then the old man came to open the door. His face was paler than before, all wrinkled and his beard long and snow white.

“I am from the police department,” the man introduced himself to the old man. “you must be Mr.Jaron Sarvan. I am here to take you to the station.”

“Why?” the old man was puzzled by the policeman’s words.

“We have found the burglar that broke into your house,”  The policeman replied.

The old man’s eyes glittered like gold. His mouth, helpless to utter a single sound. For a moment it felt the old man was no longer old. Like his younger days stood before him.

“If you could come with me now” asked the policeman to the old man.

“Yes, yes,” the old man, at last, found his sense to speak something. He walked out with the police officer in the dress he was in, not even bothering to change.

“The door, aren’t you going to lock it?” The officer was confused about the old man’s doing. The inspector has told him that the old man may act unusual so to be nice to him. And he did. He went in closed the door and locked it. Keeping the key with him. The old man had already got into the car waiting for the officer. 

“Let’s go” he shouted out loud to the officer like a kid waiting to go out for a vacation. The officer had serious doubt on the man’s sanity. Anyway, he got into the car and drove off to the police station.

It took some time to get to the police station, he could see that the old man was restless in the back seat. Smiling and talking to himself. He looked happy and lively. It only took less than a minute for the old man to get to the inspector’s office once they arrived at the police station. The inspector was sitting in his chair reading something while the old man rushed into his office. He was surprised to see the man of that age in such an excitement.

“Oh! You’ve come. I thought you never went out of your mansion” said the inspector mocking the old man.

“Did you find it?” asked Mr.Sarvan not at all bothering about the inspector’s sarcasm.

“Yes, we did.” He asked his assistant to bring in the culprit. The assistant went into a room and returned with a lean and tall man of early thirties. His face was sweating and shabby hair fell over his forehead. The assistant handed a package to the inspector. He opened it and showed the old man the money the tall man had stolen.

“I am sorry, we can’t hand over the money to you now.” Said the inspector. The old man’s face fell, he was very disappointed now.

“Is that all?” asked the old man, not at all impressed on the inspector. “Didn’t you find my pen?”

“No there was no pen, but found all the money he took,” said the inspector with honor.

“I don’t want the money, where is my pen?” he asked the inspector. He stood still, not responding to the inspector. Then the old man turned towards the burglar.

“Where is my pen?”

The burglar looked helpless, he was already exhausted, his body was weak. His mind, all broken down.

“I didn’t take any pen.” He managed to speak.

“Don’t lie,” the old man now became uneasy. “WHERE IS MY PEN?”

The old man flew over to the burglar’s side. With his clenched fist, he punched the burglar right under his left eye with all the power he got. He fell down almost unconscious. The inspector and his assistant held back Mr.Sarvan. First, he tried to resist the officers, but he was old and weary his young days were far behind. They bought him to another room and made him sit there.

“My pen, My pen” the old man repeated to himself his grief. He was crying like a baby. His body was shivering, hands falling down with the loss of energy. The inspector felt so sad for the man. He went out and called the old man’s son, who was now a Member of Parliament.

An hour passed and there came a young, tall and a fair guy with black hair and a cleanly shaven face. His dress shouted out his position. He walked into the office and sat on the chair even before the inspector asked him to.

“Good morning sir,” the inspector greeted the young man. The inspector explained everything to him, everything from the beginning. The young man was patient enough to hear it all even though he didn’t like it.

“Where is he?” The young man asked after a long wait. The inspector asked his assistant to get the old man. He returned swiftly with the man. The young man had a grim look on his face. He was really unhappy to hear all these nonsense.

“I’ll take him,” he said and walked towards his father and held his hand. “And drop all the charges against him and the burglar.” The inspector was bewildered by his superior’s orders. But he had to obey it.

“All right,” The inspector replied. The Young man and his father walked out of the police station to a very expensive car that had a Red beacon light on top.

It was a silent ride. The old man still in the thought of his lost pen and his son who was displeased of his father’s nuisance. Anyhow he tried to keep his patience till he reached his home. They went to the Lonely Mansion.

The car stopped and they both got out. The old man didn’t bother minding his son, walked to the door. It was locked, he searched for the key but there wasn’t. The man searched everywhere for the key. There was nothing.

“What? You lost the key too?” asked his son. “What is wrong with you, huh?” He was longing for this conversation, now his patience ran out.

“There is nothing wrong with me” replied the old man not even turning back to his son. 
The young man was angry now, he didn’t come all the way just to hear nothing.

“I had to leave the meeting today to release you,” said his son who was blaming his father for creating inconvenience and for abandoning the Parliament meeting.

“I didn’t ask anybody to release me, I was not the prisoner,” the old man replied calmly and not turning back. His son walked up to him and grabbed over his shoulder and turned him over. 

“Look at me,  I am getting married next month. I don’t want the world to know that my father is insane and had lost his mind,” argued his son.

The clouds were darkening, the sun was no longer bright and young. The old man’s face darkened, his wrinkles were likes waves in the ocean. His eyes were red of pain and sorrow. He now understood that he was no longer needed for his son. That he turned out to be a burden. But above all, he knew that his pen will never be found.

“I am sorry for what I did, I never thought what it would do to you or your career.” He cried. His son felt sorry for him. He held his father’s hands in guilt. 

“No, I am sorry. I shouldn’t have talked to you like that.” They both looked each other for a moment. “Come stay with me, father.”

The old man thought about it for a second. He already knew the answer and told him no. They didn’t argue anymore. Then a police officer came with the key, the same officer who came to call Mr.Sarvan from the Lonely Mansion, as he locked the door and kept the key with him. Later, his son went back to his world leaving the old man to his own world. He insisted on calling back Miss Farana but Mr.Sarvan refused him. And the old man lived there alone for the rest of the days.

Many moons passed by the Lonely Mansion, one day the old man came out of the mansion. Dressed all fairly, like he did in his younger days. He went straight to the police station. The inspector was startled to see the old man in such a dress. He had all the pride and honor that he owned while he was the MP. The old man asked the inspector about the burglar. The inspector first refused to give away the details, but Mr.Sarvan kept to asking him at least his address. The inspector gave it to him. He thanked the inspector for his nobility and loyalty. Then he left. They knew where he would be going. The inspector called Mr.Sarvan’s son.

It was a long ride for the old man to get to the burglar’s place. Yet he enjoyed it. He seldom went for long trips at this old age, but this time the matter was pressing him. At last, he reached a local market that was near the place where the burglar lived. He went to a shopkeeper who was now a little more energetic by seeing a rich man in their market. 

“What can I do for you, sir?” the shopkeeper asked Mr. Sarvan very kindly.

“Have you seen this man?” Mr. Sarvan showed the picture of the burglar to the shopkeeper. The man’s eyes gleamed. He knew who it was.

“Yes, Komen. He was here just now.” His eyes searched around the store. “There he is” pointing to the shop opposite to him. Mr. Sarvan saw a tall man with long black hair and a beard, almost like his own but only blacker with a little boy in his hand.

“Thank you.” He told the shopkeeper and gave him 100 Rs. The shopkeeper was delighted and wished for the old man to come again later and ask for some other man. Mr.Sarvan walked towards the burglar. When he reached near the man, he patted on his shoulder.

“Komen?” asked Mr.Sarvan. The Burglar turned back and he was shocked, his eyes filled with guilt and there was a wound under his left eye, that the old man gave him at the police station.

“Yes,” he told suspiciously, he didn’t know why the old man followed him here. Anyway, he knew it was not good. Mr. Sarvan smiled. 

“Do you remember me?” asked Mr.Sarvan with a pleasant smile. “I know you do”

“Yes,” Komen felt free when the old man smiled. “Is this your boy?” asked Mr.Sarvan bending towards the child in his arms. A beautiful boy that looked exactly like his father. Towards him, a young woman came who was beautiful, wore a nice and subtle dress. It was his wife. 

“Yes, his name is Shegar” replied Komen. Mr.Sarvan kept on talking to three of them very pleasantly. After some time he asked Komen.

“Can I have a minute with you?” Komen nodded agreeing. He gave the child to his wife and walked with the old man towards the bus stop where there were benches to sit. They sat there for a long time silently. Then Komen broke the silence.

“I am sorry. I didn’t want to steal from your house. But I needed money. It was very urgent.” Komen confessed himself. Mr.Sarvan smiled at Komen.

“It’s all right. Everyone steals, I have done it too when I was young.” He went back to his younger days when it was all survival of the fittest. He was born in a very poor family, his father and mother left him when he was a child. Grew up with the kids in the slums. Robbed and did some dangerous things in life to survive the cruel world. The Old man kept on saying things.

“One day I pickpocketed a college professor while on a bus. He caught me red-handed but he didn’t tell anyone on the bus or to the police. He took me to a restaurant nearby and bought me food that I had never ever seen in my life. I was sure he did that because I looked empty.” Mr.Sarvan wiped off the tears that flow over his cheeks.

He gave me a pen that was in his shirt pocket and told me “You have many choices. Everyone does. Either you can stab a man with this pen, as you can see it is really strong or sell it to someone, it is really expensive or use it for what it was meant to be used for.” I didn’t utter a word. He went away after paying the bill. Several days passed and I gave serious thoughts about it and came to decision, I was going to use it for what it was meant to be used for.” He paused for a second and continued.

“I went to a local school, completed my high school education and got an admission at One of the best colleges in the country. And started to write in a newspaper, published many books, and became the MP. All with the pen he gave me.” Mr.Sarvan stopped when he was out of breath and went back to see all of his achievements. Komen interrupted his thoughts, he didn’t want to, but he needed to.

“I am sorry, It was my mistake you lost the pen.” He held the old man’s hand and wept like a baby. Mr. Sarvan comforted him, they went on talking for a long time then a car stopped right in front of him and Mr.Sarvan’s son looked out through the window. 

“Are you coming?” asked the son to his father, like his father used to do when his son was waiting for the bus when he was in college.

“yes! yes!” He was delighted to see his son there. Mr. Sarvan turned to Komen and said:

“I came to tell sorry to you, I never should have hit you. That was not my way. Please forgive me.”

“No! it was my fault. You should not apologize for my mistake.” Komen stopped him from saying anything more. “Listen up, I will find you your pen. I swear.” The old man smiled and nodded.

He told goodbyes to the Burglar and went away with his son. 

  Many a Sun shined over the Lonely Mansion, one day a letter came in search of the old man, it was from Komen. He opened it immediately and there was a letter with a pen tied to it. His eyes were shining like the sun. His young age returned. Excitement and happiness groped him. The letter said: 

“I found it”  

He felt really happy that could not be expressed to others. 

Years went on like that and one day a police officer appeared at Komen’s home. Komen was frightened to see an officer at his doorstep, you know he was a burglar and was caught once. The officer didn’t say much just gave him a big packet. It was too small for a package. He opened it and found a letter from Mr.Jaron Sarvan’s lawyer. It said:

Letter sent on behalf of Mr.Jaron Sarvan(late)

  I am unfortunate to inform you that Mr.Jaron Sarvan died four months ago. His will was read two days before the letter was sent. He asked me specially to write this letter to you along with the part of share that was left for you. If any unclear, write to me in the address provided in the envelope.

PS: The part of the share is in the packet.

Komen was dreadful to hear such a news on a fine morning. Still, he was puzzled for what he was left to. He opened the packet and there was another letter, he opened it and a pen fell to his hand. The same pen he had taken, and returned to the rightful owner, was now in his hand. The letter inside was the same letter Komen sent to the old man. Only there was something added to it.

“I found it”

yes, you have, now it is yours. Remember everyone has a choice. Use it wisely.

Komen’s eyes filled with tears he pressed the letter and the pen to his heart and cried. His son walked to him and asked why was he crying. Komen kneeled before his son and embraced him and cried. He was happy but sad. He felt despair first, now a light shone on him. A new world stood before him. He kissed his son and told him:

“I found my choice, son”. He smiled.

 

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage – Lord Byron

 

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
⁠There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
⁠There is society, where none intrudes,
⁠By the deep Sea, and Music in its roar:
⁠I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
⁠From these our interviews, in which I steal
⁠From all I may be, or have been before,
⁠To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express—yet can not all conceal.

                                                 

                                               May God be with you always.

The Postcard Stranger – A Short Story.

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                          ©copyright belong to Arjun Raghu.

The evening was drawing near but they weren’t losing their hang of it. Marli with his friends was watching football in his home. His parents went to visit their relatives so his house became a fan park that day. The match was played by the local clubs and it was a final matchday. They could not afford to miss it. Marli’s football fever was intense, he used to play for their city club but he was ruled out for the tournament and they have reached the finals. So there in his home, he watched it with his friends, enjoying it. It was almost 6’o’clock when the match ended and Marli’s team won the match by a huge goal difference.

“Boy, that was a match,” Gono said to the group. Gono used to play for the college team but never made it to the Club. Marli was anyway happy for the result, even though he could not part with it.

“I forgot to ask, Raghu. Where were you last week? You didn’t come to play” asked Marli.

“Oh! I went to my grandfather’s place. It was fun and mysterious.” Said Raghu with great pride.

“Mysterious?” the whole group wondered at the same time. Raghu felt awkward hearing them say it together. But he smiled and said yes.

“What happened?” they asked again in the same voice.

This time Raghu told them everything his grandfather told him. His grandfather used to be in the police department. He was a fine officer and have received a gold medal for his valor.

“He told me about many of his investigations especially the case of the postcard serial killer”.

“Postcard?” asked Gono. “How can a postcard be a serial killer?”

“The postcard didn’t kill people. It was the name of the killer. He used to send people postcards before killing them. “

Marli was getting a little frightened. He was always afraid of thieves and killers. But was not ready to stop Raghu from completing the story.

“And the best part is he was never caught”. Raghu told with a big smile on his face.

“That would be enough” Marli stopped him. Everyone laughed. They knew Marli was afraid of all these things.

“Don’t worry, Marli. That was a long time ago. Even if he wasn’t caught, he’s probably dead by now” Gono tried to comfort Marli. But Raghu wasn’t ready to drop it. “but, you know, he may be dead. Still, his ghosts are lurking around.” Raghu laughed.

“Get out now” Marli became angry and kicked Raghu out of his house.

“Alright I will go, but be careful you are alone here.” Raghu kept tampering Marli’s thoughts. Marli searched for something to throw at Raghu, but by the time he got one Raghu and his other friends were nowhere to be seen.

“Idiots,” He told himself of his friends, smiling at his own fear. Marli slowly closed the door and locked it and went and lied on his bed with his cell phone in the hand. A little later he heard the doorbell or thought he heard one because he had his headphone on so he was not that sure. Anyway, he went to see if it was true, but no, there was nobody outside. Just his thoughts. But on the way back he saw a small yellow paper that resembled a sticky note. It was lying on the ground where they were watching football. He walked to it and picked it up. It said:

“Hello”

“what is this?” he thought to himself and turned it over and over. There was nothing else just the word hello. Marli knew it was Raghu’s play. He tore away the paper and went back to his bed but in front of his room, there was another card just the same paper he tore away. It said:

“Hello?”

The joke was going way too far. He tore it and walked to the front door and opened it. For his surprise, the door was locked. He tried the keys, but it didn’t open. Pushing or smashing was noway applicable as the door was made of steel. He could only dream of opening it with a push. The night had arrived and darkness spread over the world. Marli went to switch on the light. The light didn’t work.

“What is wrong with all these things?” he asked out loud for he was frustrated with all the jokes. Marli walked towards his bed to pick up his phone and call his friends. This time, on the bed there was a postcard, that was yellow, old and dusty. It bears the words:

“Don’t go out

Was that a threat he didn’t know. He turned it over and a sudden fear groped his soul and was slicing him to pieces. There were blood stains on back. He dropped it and ran out forgetting his mobile phone. Marli knew there was someone inside his home. Was it a prank or not? he was mentally depressed. He was sweating far greater than when he used to play football. His head was feeling dizzy, his hands shivering.

“THUMP!!!!” His heart started to pound even faster when a large noise like a plate falling on to the ground and breaking was heard.

It was surely from the kitchen because there were no plates anywhere else. He hid behind the door and peeped over the sides to have a view of the kitchen if someone comes out. A slight view of the kitchen was available from the room where he was now standing.

“THWACK!!!” another sound from the kitchen was heard, this time like a bang on the door or window. He hid behind the door and stopped peeping out. To his right, something peculiar stood. It was small and yellow. In a second it slowly flew to him and lied before his feet. He didn’t want to look or pick it up. But he couldn’t control his urge. In a swift motion, he picked it up. A dark fear went down his throat when he read it.

“I am not where you are looking”

He ran out to the door and tried to open it. Marli didn’t want to die today, not like this. He really pushed the door out. Nothing would happen, he knew that. Still, it was worth a try.

There was no other option for him. To pick up the mobile phone was out of the question. There was no way he would go into his bedroom. He ran straight to upstairs. There was just one bedroom. That had stayed locked for many years now. Nobody in his house went there. Nobody liked it, that was the truth. Like it or not, it was the only option he had.

He pushed open the door with all his power and it opened with a little creak. As soon as he got in he closed the door and locked it and sat at the far corner of the room. There was nothing else in the room except some old scraps and newspapers, a window opposite the door. Marli sat there for a long time. He was thirsty, but he would not go down. Hours past, the darkness got stronger. There was no source of light in the room. But he needed to try his luck and walked towards the switch, for his delight the light was on and he had a better view of where he was. He slowly came back to the place where he sat. Near him laid a bundle of old newspapers. Marli slowly pulled out a paper on top. It was really old, almost a century old. On the front page, there was a news headline that made Marli go mad. It said:

“The postcard Killing counts 127 and more!”

It didn’t end there, from the inside fell a yellow postcard with two words written in blood.

“Got you!”

Marli’s eyes were staring on to the postcard, his hands were shivering, his shirt was fully wet of sweat. He could have died of fear but his attention was taken by a bang on the door. A loud thumping continued for a long time. Marli knew he was trying to break in. There was nothing he could do to escape. The only thing he could do was pray to God for everything he got in his life. After some time the thumping stopped. Marli rejoiced, there was no more sound or any letters. He sat there for some more time. He thought he must now go to the room and get his cell phone. He slowly walked to the door, but suddenly the lights went out. Marli threw himself back into the newspaper bundle. He expected a blow from the door. But through the window on his back, a red face with black tongue appeared with an ax in hand and said in a devilish voice.

” 128 “

Marli knew what he said, he would be the 128th victim. He screamed so loudly that he fell to the ground unconscious.

It was all black.

Marli slowly tried to open his eyes and saw his phone ring. He looked around not knowing where he was, then it came to him that it was his room, there was a pale sunlight. It was evening.

“Oh! a nightmare” he said himself. He was sweating, utterly thirsty. His heart was beating faster than he had ever known. For one second he went back to his dreams just to make sure it was a dream. He again heard the phone ring.

Marli stretched his hands to take the phone and answered it.

“Hello,” almost a whisper. There came a loud voice from the other side, it was probably shouting.

“Where were you, I have been calling you for an hour,” It was his mother.

He slowly looked at his phone. Yes, there were 19 missed calls.

“Sorry, I think I was just having a bad dream,” he told his mother everything he saw and heard. He heard a mouthful for roaming around with friends like Raghu, he always heard that. His mother never liked Raghu, she says “he is an evil person. Anyway now he knows there was evil around and met him in person in his dreams. He sighed.

That night he went to Gono’s house and went back home only when his mother and father got back.